Original Languages Library

* Original Languages Library: $415.95

* Ratio of scholarly to non-scholarly works: 4
* Ratio of research works to non-research works: 4
* Subject range: 3 (only because it’s mainly focussed on textual criticism and original language tools)
* Contains resources not freely or more cheaply available elsewhere:4
* Value for money: 4

This collection, as you can deduce from the name, is aimed at textual criticism and lexical studies, and the works it contains are well suited to the purpose. The number of scholarly original language texts it contains is considerable. Aside from the ESV reverse interlinear, it also contains:

* Nestle-Aland 27th Edition Greek NT w/ McReynolds English Interlinear & Logos Morphology: This is the Greek New Testament text used by basically every modern English Bible printed these days. It comes complete with an interlinear, and morphology (actually telling you the grammatical form of each word where it appears)

* Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible and Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Newberry): Alternative interlinears of the Old and New Testaments respectively

* NRSV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear of the NT: An alternative reverse interlinear

* The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition w/ McReynolds English Interlinear & Logos Morphology: This is a Greek New Testament text based on the same Greek textual evidence as the Nestle-Aland 27th Edition above. However, it is different in some places, as it was put together by a different committee, which made some different decisions concerning a number of passages. In their evaluation of the textual evidence, the committee which produced this text gave a different weighting to some texts, or preferred alternative readings to those chosen by the editors of the Nestle-Aland edition But there’s more, a lot more. It also has the Byzantine/Majority Textform w/ Robinson Morphology, themElzevir Textus Receptus (1624) w/ Robinson Morphology, Scrivener’s Textus Receptus (1894) w/ Robinson Morphology, Stephen’s Textus Receptus (1550) w/ Robinson Morphology the Westcott-Hort Greek NT (1881) w/ Robinson Morphology, and Tischendorf’s Greek New Testament. These are historical critical texts which you are unlikely to use, though you may find it useful to look at the Byzantine/Majority Textform, the various editions of the Receptus, and Westcott/Hort. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s still more. It also has the Septuagint (Rahlfs), w/CCAT Morphological Tagging, as well as a number of the previous New Testament texts with alternative morphology (such as Swanson’s).

And now let’s start on the Old Testament texts:

* Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia w/ WIVU Hebrew Morphology: This is the Hebrew Old Testament text used by virtually every modern Bible printed (not the same as the KJV’s Hebrew source text). You’ll only use this properly if you can read Hebrew (I can’t, so I don’t use it at all)

* The Parallel Aligned Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Texts of Jewish Scripture (Tov): This places the Hebrew/Aramaic Old Testament text alongside the Greek Old Testament text. Great for identifying the differences, if you can read Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek (I can’t, so I never use it)

There are a couple of other Hebrew Old Testament morphologies as well, along with the Aramaic texts and the Latin Vulgate, which will be of little use to most of us (I can barely manage with the Vulgate, and the Aramaic is completely wasted on me). Moving on to some of the other valuable texts, we find The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts. It contains the Greek text and translation of all the very earliest Greek New Testament texts. It also contains an excellent introduction to the history of the transmission and textual criticism of the New Testament which will provide you with a scholarly insight into the entire process, which most people either completely misunderstand or simply don’t know anything about (I’ve been in both categories). Recommended reading if you want to know anything about the subject. There are also a lot of valuable works in translation, such as:

* The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT in English (Charles): Very valuable. Even though this edition and translation by RC Charles is dated now (1913), it remains a perfectly useable collection of the non-canonical works written during the interestamental era. It costs $250 on its own.

* The Nag Hammadi Library in English: Fourth Revised Edition: Oh, those Gnostics! Everyone’s always talking about them, and this is what they’re talking about, the largest collection of Gnostic texts ever found (note that the NG Library also contained many non-Gnostic texts). This resource is useful for checking what the Gnostics really did say, given people attribute to them all kinds of ideas, including many you’ll never find in their writings. There’s $66 of solid research material here

* The Context of Scripture (3 volumes): Now come on, this is sold for $300 just by itself. You’ve seem all those presentations in which a brother digs out some ancient text with a relevance to the Bible (like the Merneptah Stele, the Moabite Stone, the Tell Dan Stele, Taylor’s Prism, or the Cyrus Cylinder), and perhaps you’ve wondered ‘Wow, where did he get all that?’. Well he probably scruffed it from a mate, or Googled frantically on Sunday afternoon, or typed it out from a Bible dictionary or something similar. But you can get huge amounts of this kind of material right here in this collection. Previously the standard collection of such resources was Pritchard’s ‘Ancient Eastern Texts Relating To The Old Testament‘ (I have the third edition with supplement in hardcopy on my shelf), a printed work which means you have to type out everything yourself. 

This is the successor, a comprehensive scholarly work of great value dating to 1997, which makes it the most up to date collection of its kind. It does not contain the same texts however, so there’s still a place for Pritchard (which is available for the Logos Library System at a cost of $80). In ‘The Context of Scripture’ you’ll find the Mesha Stele (Moabite Stone), Tel Dan Stele, the Siloam Tunnel Inscription, the controversial Jerusalem Pomegranate, the Deir Alla inscription (which specifically mentions Balaam the son of Beor), the Temple of the Lord Ostracon (a fragment mentioning a dedication of three shekels of silver ‘for the house of Yahweh’, dating to the reign of Josiah), the Royal Steward Inscription (referring to Shebna, Hezekiah’s steward), the Ketef Hinnom Amulets (which contain the blessing of Numbers 6:24-26), as well as a host of other incredibly useful finds (such as many seals identifying Biblical characters). Definitely terrific value for money, especially bundled in this collection

* The Amarna Letters: 14th century Canaanite correspondence with Egypt, very useful for the late Bronze Age, and oft cited in the scholarly literature

* Complete Works of Josephus: Speaks for itself, everyone loves Josephus

* Ancient Egyptian Literature, volumes 1-3: Very useful for Egyptian research, especially when comparing the Law of Moses to Egyptian law and health/hygiene regulations But we haven’t finished yet. Now let’s start on the serious lexical materials:

* Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon of the OT: Forget Strong’s, Young’s, Cruden’s, Gesenius, and Thayer (you’ll already get Enhanced Strong’s and Gesenius in this package anyway). This is a scholarly 20th century Hebrew lexicon which was for decades the standard work in the field. It has only been surpassed comparatively recently, and for average use is still all that most people will ever need in terms of a Hebrew lexicon which is still widely respected in academic circles

* A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament: This is an abridged version of HALOT, the successor to BDB (the work previously described), and for all it’s an abridged version which isn’t as up to date as the full HALOT, it’s still incredibly useful and supplements BDB very well. Between this and BDB you’ll be using some of the best resources in Hebrew lexical studies

* An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, Liddell & Scott: This is an abridged version of LJS9 (with revised supplement), the grandfather of Greek lexicons, with a scope sweeping from from the 11th century BC to the Byzantine Period. Even though it’s abridged, it’s still incredibly valuable. By the way, you can search for Greek words in the full version of LSJ9 online here for free, but you need to know your Greek (or at least your transliteration)

* Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (10 volumes): Incredibly useful. Costs $200 on its own. Considered a standard work in the field. Like a lexicon it’s indexed in Greek, so you’ll have to know your Greek to use it properly, but if you can manage that you’ll be able to find gems like a 22 page entry on baptw, which covers the usage of the word from the classical Greek era right through to the 4th century Christian era, along with its Jewish use in sources such as the Septuagint and Josephus. Amazing value here

* A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, Revised Edition: Specific to the LXX, a very useful resource usually selling for US$75 on its own. A recent scholarly work, well respected

* Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains: Louw and Nida’s classic work, grouping lexical data into semantic domains listed in English, rather than an alphabetical list of words in their original Greek. A late 20th century lexicon from two very well respected scholars, and frequently cited by academics. Much easier to search for English speakers without Greek knowledge. The headwords in the lexical entries are still in Greek, but you can transliterate them if necessary As if that wasn’t enough already, there are a couple of useful archaeologcal works thrown in:

* The Dead Sea Scrolls And Modern Translations Of Old Testament: A good accurate summary of the content and significance of the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’. No sensationalism or conspiracy theories here

* The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land: Published in 1990 this 1996 revised edition still this isn’t up to date with the latest archaeological developments, and shows its age in parts. But it is still considered one of the classic works on archaeology, and remains a standard publication to which professional archaeologists still direct the layman. Contributions have been made by a very broad sweep of scholars, who do not all agree with each other or hold the same view of the Biblical text, but this provides a well balanced if not completely uniform presentation of the evidence

This collection costs $415.95. There are four works here which if purchased separately would add up to at least $600. In reality there’s closer to $900 of scholarly material here. If you’re not ready to go to the next level and spend another $200, this is the collection to purchase as the foundation of a formidable research library.